New York. During a gathering of over 1,000 business, political, diplomatic and media personalities at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the director of the Museum of European Art in Clarence, Consul B. John Zavrel met the Presidents Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic and Roman Herzog of Germany. Zavrel was invited to this event because of his long transatlantic engagement for art and culture.
Two of the world's most successful and political leaders -- Presidents Havel and Herzog arrived in New York to receive the 1997 European Statesman Award for the exemplary role they both played in the process of reconciliation and healing between their countries and peoples after more than a half-century of difficult relations. After several years of intensive and often emotional discussions in their respective countries, the Czechs and the Germans finally agreed to leave to history two injustices commited against one another: the occupation of the former Czechoslovakia by Germany in 1939, and the forced expulsion of 3 million ethnic Germans by Czechoslovakia in 1945. Both sides, accepting moral responsibility for their deeds, have made a committment to draw a line under the past, and from now on work together toward a new, peaceful Europe. This long-overdue reconciliation opens up the possibility for the Czech people to join the European Union and become fully integrated in the free world.
Appropriately, on the day of the award, Russia announced that it agrees to President Bill Clinton's courageous initiative to admit Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary into the NATO military alliance. This step would protect these new democratic countries in their further progress toward democracy and freedom. It is expected that these countires will be invited to join the NATO alliance as early as July, 1997. This would be a small step to correct the great injustice and more than 40 years of suffering of the millions of East European people, resulting from the infamous Yalta Pact when the U.S. President Roosevelt and Britain's Winston Churchill handed over the central and eastern European nations to Stalin.
President Havel started out his career as a playwright; he early recognized theater as a vehicle through which he could express his humanist democratic values. His early plays such as The Garden Party (1963) and The Memorandum (1965) ridicule the degenerative and absurd nature of the communist society. In 1977, Havel became one of the co-founders of the Charter 77 intiniative to guarantee the protection of human rights. In 1978, he published his most influential work The Power of the Powerless, which analyzed the essence of Communist totalitarian oppression, and then demonstrated the strength of moral resistance and the power of "living in truth". Havel was imprisoned several times, including a 4 1/2 year period from 1979 - 1993.
As President, Havel has at once promoted his moral values and democratic beliefs, and worked to facilitate the transition to a market democracy. He has been a determined initiator of democratic changes, and has become a leading advocate for Central European integration into the western security and economic structures. Havel's concerns and efforts extend beyond the boundaries of his homeland. He is a global ambassador of morality, human rights, and democratic values. His success as a leader is measured by the degree of respect accorded to him by the international community.
His fellow-recipient of the European Statesman Award, the German President Roman Herzog, as the head of Europe's largest and economically strongest state, plays an extremely influential role in the present and future political, economic, and security life of Europe. Working together with the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Herzog views the European unification as a part of the global process which will serve as inspiration for solving the common problems of the future. He is sensitive to the needs and concerns of all the neigboring countries. For instance, a year ago he appealed to his "Russian friends" not to see the planned expansion of NATO as a threat. Clearly, his hard work and dedication are contributing to a more stable and peaceful Europe.
The Institute for EastWest Studies is a think tank and action tank at once. Since its founding by John Edwin Mroz in 1981, it has been able to make a deep impact in Central Europe. It works in 40 countries to help build a new security system in Europe, nurture enterpreneurship, improve investment climate, and explore emerging strategic issues. At a previous awards dinner, President George Bush stated: "This Institute is one of those rare places where practical things get done. We need this kind of a place!"
To the previous recipients of the award also belong the former UN Secretary-General de Cuellar, Presidents Göncz (Hungary), Kuchma (Ukraine), George Bush, Deputy Prime Minister Chubais of Russia, Senator Patrick Moynihan, and others. The ceremony took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Zavrel thanked the Czech President Havel for his engagement to improve the relations between the people of his country and Germany and urged him to continue to work toward a better, peaceful Europe where all people can live in the spirit of friendship and peace. Zavrel is Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Western New York.
The ceremony was also attended by the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who presented the awards. Secretary Albright has been a long-time supporter of the Institute for EastWest Studies. As it turned out, the Czech President conspired with the others to arrange the presentation of the award just for this day -- the 60th birthday of his good friend Secretary Albright, who is also of Czech descent. Having been presented with a bouquet of mixed roses by John Mroz, the president of the Institute and congratulations from Presidents Havel and Herzog, all the assembled guests joined together in singing "Happy birthday, Madame Secretary".
In her inspiring address, Secretary Albright underscored our opportunity to build a truly undivided, transatlantic community. "There are many milestones on the road to united Europe. The enlargement of NATO is one, and it is the one that requires the greatest committment and leadership from the United States, and President Clinton has dedicated himself to that leadership. We know that we have a responsibility in our time as others have had in theirs, not to be prisoners of history, but to shape history. A responsibility to use and defend our freedom and help others to share our aspirations for liberty, peace, and the quiet miracle of a normal life."
We recommend these books:
A Terrible Revenge, by Dr. Alfred Maurice de Zayas
Primer for Those Who Would Govern, by Hermann Oberth
Rigadoon, by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
Three Novels, by Karel Capek